A heated pub discussion yesterday has moved me into to areas psychoanalytic, specifically the current (/century old) vogue for blaming your myriad personality defects, faults and disorders on your parents. Now I don’t want to take sides either for or against the lazy, self-deluding, determinism loving, cop-outs who take refuge in this argument (hubris courtesy of my father, thanks dad!). But I have noticed in my travels through the Great World of Garden Blogging that a lot of people passionate about gardening list childhood days helping out in their mother’s/father’s/grandparents’ gardens as when they ‘caught the bug’. Are the gardens of our childhood something that we seek to recreate, to escape, or are they entirely irrelevant?
Without further ado, an investigation into parental influences on gardening preferences using Ben of Bengarden as a case study.
My mother and fathers attitude to gardening could not be more different. My mother is a very keen and knowledgeable gardener, adept at making the most of her small plot by balancing colour, texture and form. My father has a large garden dedicated to growing competition standard brambles (and nettles, and a rhododendron). If anywhere in the recesses of my super-ego lurks platonic ideal of ‘garden’ it probably lies somewhere between the two. A foliage filled thicket of fragrant flowers, with patches of debauched wilderness giving off faint hints of ruined Aztec temples and pagan grottoes. Could this be a legacy of my formative years? Or have I just described the quintessential English garden; cottage style garden planting with a nod towards the romantic style?
Inconclusive. On to plant fetishes and phobias.
My mother and I both generally dislike variegated plants (particularly garish Euonymus sp. and the dreaded Aucuba japonica) however we both dislike looking at vomit, and would not consider that an inherited trait. We also like flowering climbers, autumn colour and ferns, but then who doesn’t? My father and I have never really discussed plants, but we do share a passion for carving tree stumps into anatomically correct phallic totems, this however has no place in a psychoanalytic discussion (Sigmund who?). I sincerely believe that all the plants I love I have stumbled upon and grown affectionate towards of my own free will.
Is there anybody out there who can help me in my investigations? Are you turning into your mother? Has your life as a gardener been one protracted period of teenage rebellion? Do you feel the pulsating of a great ancestral earth spirit in everything you do? Let me know.